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Court denies motion to reduce charges against Ryan Lawrence

Tom Magnarelli
Ryan Lawrence's defense attorney Michael Vavonese.

A judge denied a defense motion to reduce the charges and change the trial venue for Ryan Lawrence, the Syracuse man charged with the murder and kidnapping of his 21-month-old daughter, Maddox. The defense is taking one motion to an appellate court.

Ryan Lawrence’s defense attorney, Michael Vavonese, said it is their position that the allegations against Lawrence, should not include the first degree murder and first degree kidnapping charges.

“The jury can revisit that issue, that this was really a murder from step one, and it was a murder in furtherance of a kidnapping versus vice versa," Vavonese said. "It’s a situation where the intent from step one, was to murder, that’s the allegation, not that any of that occurred, that’s the allegation.”

A judge disagreed with that assertion after reviewing grand jury testimony and ruled that the charges stand. Lawrence is also charged with second degree murder.

Jeremy Cali, the senior assistant district attorney for Onondaga County, said the defense also requested the trial be moved to a different county, which was also denied.

“The law states that if a murder takes place and the body is disposed of in our county that we do have jurisdiction," Cali said. "The judge agreed with us and made that ruling that Onondaga County clearly has jurisdiction.”

An appellate court will determine if a fair jury can be selected in Onondaga County.

“I think it’s challenging in a lot of cases,” Cali said. “I think there’s been some huge cases that have garnered this type of media attention before and we’ve been able to pick a fair jury. We’re going to make those arguments to the appellate division and he’ll make his and we’ll see what they say.”

A hearing has been scheduled for July 6 to determine if statements Lawrence made to police can be used for trial. Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick will prosecute the case and the trial date is scheduled for October 31.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.